A Georgia city council member got candid about the reality of making a living in politics.
On May 22, South Fulton city council member Khalid Kamau posted a picture of himself on Facebook with an EBT card in one hand and a disconnect notice for his light bill in the other.
“This is the Disconnect Notice I got from Atlanta Gas Light last week, and my Food Stamp card I use to buy groceries,” he wrote. “Even though I work 12 hours/day, 6 days/week as a City Councilman, the job only pays $13,000/year.”
Like many, Kamau gets by using side hustles but his dedication to his constituents hasn’t wavered.
“I work part-time jobs & drive Lyft to make ends meet, but sometimes I fall short,” he continued. “As an #ElectedActivist, I am always advocating for working class people — because I am #WorkingClass.”
Kamau eventually paid the bill but he shared the image to show every politician isn’t rolling in dough.
"I recently started telling people I make $13,000 a year. Lots of people assume we already make fifty or sixty [thousand],” he told WXIA.
In February, state senator Valencia Seay sponsored a bill to raise their salary from a little over $17K to about $53K but it didn’t go anywhere.
Seay expressed a similar opinion.
"It’s truly a full-time position because you cannot say 'no constituent, I’m off the clock,'” Seay said at the time. "You cannot tell constituents that. You still are working on their behalf, the whole year, til you come back"
Other politicians co-signed Kamau’s post in the comment section.
“I feel you Khalid. I get paid $19k/year and have to juggle 2 jobs plus be a part time stay at home Dad because we can't afford full time childcare,” wrote Athens-Clarke County commissioner Tim Denson.
“Keeping the pay for these elected officials like they do almost guarantees that the only people who can be elected officials are people who already have wealth and/or a flexible high-paying job.”
Senator and head of the Georgia Democratic Party Nikema Williams also agreed.
“Loving the post because folks need to hear this. The next time you ask your elected official to financially sponsor an event…most of us are just trying to get by,” she wrote. “There aren’t many jobs out there that are willing to hire elected officials, particularly legislators, that need plenty of flexibility during session. This is not ok, but it’ll continue until more of us are willing to sacrifice and change this system that was not designed for us or by us.”